One of the hardest things about living in the capital city of Australia is that African products that are readily available in other states are hard to find here. Think of things like mealie meal (Husbae can’t live without sadza), Cerelac (we say it’s for the baby, but it’s really for me), boerewors, hair extensions, hair oils and products – the list goes on and on.
Luckily for me, I have some awesome family and friends who are willing to do my monthly shop to ensure that I never have to go without.
…The story begins right now.
I was paid on Monday and I don’t know about you, but I like to log in and just look at my money- admiring it and thinking of ways to may it grow bigger and stronger. During the week our whole family had been completely blind-sided by the flu, so to say I was distracted would be an understatement.
Fast-forward to Friday and my friend who was doing my monthly shop made contact stating, ‘the mission has been completed. I need you to deposit $“X” amount into my bank account before I post the goods to you”. ‘No problem’ I thought, I’ll just log into my online banking app on my phone and transfer the money. So I logged in, expecting to see all my money in its glory, but alas, there was UNDER $21 IN MY EVERYDAY BANK ACCOUNT.
I screamed and just about dropped my phone. BUT HOW. I had not spent a dime during the week, THIS HAD TO BE A MISTAKE. I logged out, and then logged back in hoping to have refreshed the bank’s system – but nope – absolutely NOTHING changed – my balance was still at $20.35.
I could feel myself getting absolutely furious, like if I was white my face would have gone red. Yup, I was that mad. I started looking through my previous week’s transactions. At first, I started off recognizing some of my own transactions that I had made – fuel here, lunch there, grocery shopping in between. Then I was like HANG ON A MINUTE. I saw all these international transactions from Korea – of all places. Someone in Korea had withdrawn ALL MY MONEY.
I know that I may have some subscribers who are probably reading this and thinking “how could this have happened?!!” Well let me explain – Counterfeit or skimming transactions are those made with an altered or illegally reproduced card, based on details taken from an existing card. This includes situations when the information is copied directly from a card’s magnetic stripe.
I felt so violated. In shock, panic and frustration I immediately got on the phone to my bank – who will remain anonymous – I am not trying to catch a case! After almost 45 minutes on hold speaking to about three people in Asia, with phone you American accents – who passed me on to the ‘correct department’, I finally got through.
The person on the other end of the phone was silent as I explained what had happened. Her response after I finished, “that’s fine, these things happen it should take 21 -45 days for us to finish the investigation and for you to get any money back”.
I just about jumped into the phone when I heard that. It absolutely set me off! I pride myself on being someone who doesn’t let a lot of things set me off – but messing with my money – well that’s one way to get a rise out of me. I work too damn hard for this nonsense. The poor person on the other end of the line was probably wishing they’d never picked up my call because I definitely let them know how I feeling.
Not only was I concerned that the security of my money had been compromised, but I was more disappointed by the person on the other end of the phone representing the bank – they had zero empathy. It’s absolutely absurd that they would repeatedly ask questions like, “have you given your PIN to someone?” Have you given your card to anyone?” Of course, I bloody haven’t!
For a brief moment I thought about adopting the practices of my grandmother in Africa and keeping my money in my bra or under a mattress – but in today’s modern world – I just shouldn’t have to!
Not being happy with the Customer Service Agent that I was speaking to I asked to speak to their manager. They put me through – I spoke to the manager and I don’t whether it’s because he was more experienced in life, or could see where I was coming from, but he was extremely helpful and assured me that my money would be back in my everyday account in 10 – 15 working days. Whilst that outcome was not ideal because I wanted my money there and then, it was definitely better that 21 – 45 working days.
It’s absolutely incredible when you think of it. Most banks in Australia will give you a loan with hyper inflated interest within 24 -48 hours. But to get YOUR OWN MONEY back that was stolen because of a problem with their systems can take 10 -45 days? Unreal.
I am fast approaching day 6 of the “15 business days” until I get my money back period. Currently, I am not logging into my bank account because when I do it just pisses me off. This is an experience that I would not wish on anyone. I am lucky to have savings to tide me over, but not everyone is so fortunate – which is why I am sharing this story. In your everyday life please be aware of warning signs of skimming;
- Shop assistant or waiter taking your card out of sight to process the payment.
- You are asked to swipe your card more than once.
- EFTPOS or ATM machine does not look genuine or looks modified.
- You notice unauthorised transactions on your account.
If you believe that your card has been skimmed, please notify your bank provider immediately.
Has this ever happened to you? I am interested in hearing your experiences…